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    • Jun 1, 2018

      Great service and experience! I got a flat tire nearby and walked in off the street. They were busy and the very friendly attendant said it might an hour or longer to get my tire fixed. I said I didn't really have a choice. They managed to get my car in right away and everything done is just over half an hour.

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    • Dec 21, 2017

      The still new and very heavily Italian flavoured Spade Coffee & Spirits eatery concept from Prado Cafe owner Sammy Piccolo--with the original Prado just down the street serving 49th Parallel Coffee--opened up to some healhy buzz just a short while ago.

      The forty-seat cafe takes over the old Waves Coffee location and models itself after Italian-style coffee bars. By day, it operates as a typical coffee hot spot with pour overs and espresso service alongside snacks and sandwiches. By night, it transitions into fully fledged Italian restaurant from chef/GM Kathleen Pearce.

      On a tasting of their multi-course menu, I found it impressively remarkable what Pearce was able to do culinary-wise with such a small, intimate kitchen already full of such delicious tastes and dishes.

      All the items tried from their dinner service had a classic yet inventive appeal to everything. The nachos italiano were a delightfully crunchy snack while the pastas (squid ink gnocchi and ragu papardelle) were exquisitely put together, seasoned, and cooked.

      The little touches of ingredients, sauces, and garnishes complemented every dish (like the roasted cauliflower, melanzane parmigiana, octopus conserva, burrate, and meatballs) just ever so tastefully. There was a certain classico Italiano feel to the cuisine and eatery on the whole while feeling perfectly at home in its contemporary Commercial Drive location.

      Spade means "sword" in Italian and there's a general regal but approachable quality throughout the cafe/restaurant hybrid with an already appealing variety of Italian tastes.

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    • Japanese, Sushi Bars

      Downtown, Vancouver

      Dec 12, 2017

      Vancouver's Miku Restaurant, the flagship dining establishment of Aburi Restaurants, officially launched their new, innovative Aburi Prime sushi dining experience last week to much anticipation.

      The permanent menu of sushi-forward premium nigiri omakase (chef's selection) features a carefully selected lineup of fresh seafood with each piece prepared and paired with certain elevated garnishes for maximum flavour in an impeccably presented plating.

      Executive Chef Kazuhiro Hayashi and team debuted the new aburi--literally translated to "flame-seared" in Japanese--experience as both a standalone dish or as part of a special three-course set tasting menu including an amuse bouche and Kaiseki trio with optional drink pairings including wine, specialty sake, and a Japanese whisky digestif.

      Needless to say, Aburi and Miku, the original innovators of their eponymous style of flame-seared sushi in Canada, have crafted another fully satisfying and utterly detailed upscale Japanese dining experience using the freshest high-quality ingredients for some fiery, delicious tastes like nothing else.

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    • Lounges, Cocktail Bars

      Coal Harbour, Vancouver

      Dec 5, 2017

      The shiny and new but awkwardly named HJU:Z Lounge (pronounced "Hughes"), quietly nestled inside The Westin Bayshore hotel, was unveiled recently to much glitz and glamour--just down the hall from the still fairly recently opened H2 Rotisserie & Bar from earlier this year.

      Hoping to be a Waterfront watering hole staple with its "fly away" aviation theme inspired by reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes' notorious six-month long stay at the hotel (then called the Bayshore Inn) in 1972.

      The upscale concept, menu, and design takes inspiration from the iconic business magnate and his eccentric passion for aviation and international travel while focusing on creative cocktails, live entertainment, and aiming for a sense of culinary adventure from Chef Alex Mok.

      The wide 155-seat lounge located just past the Bayshore's foyer has an open feel centred on its dance floor and performance stage with a classically old fashioned, ornately golden bar.

      Each specialty cocktail libation is based on a different global city inspired by destinations from Hughes' legendary 91-hour trip around the world. HJU:Z is full of little touches and details with its old school dirty thirties meets forties art deco vibe and throwback decor.

      The grand opening party was an opulent yet superficial affair harkening to splashier, flashier timesin creating buzz for the new lounge as a Vancouver destination.

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    • Burgers, Breweries

      Riley Park, Vancouver

      Dec 5, 2017

      From the team behind restaurants like Wildebeest (team Gooseneck Hospitality) comes the new Bells and Whistles neighbourhood sports bar and eatery located on Fraser Street just south of Kingsway in East Vancouver.

      One of the first details and features you'll notice is the bright and vibrant games backroom with token-operated ski ball and basketball hoops. It's a nice touch among many in the well-designed and open space.

      B&W's eclectic food lineup feels deceptively simple yet thickly layered and more complex in execution. Take the all-day breakfast sandwich (with maple sausage pork patty, American cheese, hash browns, fried egg, and fries) for example. Devised as a basic morning brunch sandwich enjoyed and served for anytime of day, its construction, taste, and heartiness mimics a gourmet burger with its all-out decadence superbly.

      The main attraction aside from the clean lines, brightly basic decor, and inviting sports bar vibe is its crazy selection of craft beers--nineteen draught lagers, ales, and ciders including a custom "Bells and Whistles" pale ale from Four Winds Brewing--and nice cocktail program mixed with a welcoming neigbourhood pub vibe.

      The style for the 3,000 square foot, 120-seat bar is of an elevated diner meets beer hall with very thoughtfully twisted, refined takes on classic comfort food staples.

      Thus far, the cocktails are varied and on point. From a dark and stormy (with rum, lime, bitters, garnished with cinnamon and coconut) to a whisky-based sour, the drinks are a mostly a fine balance of boozy delightfulness to hints of fruity sweetness and classic concoctions.

      It's hard to describe the little touches and takes on pub fare mixed with fairly typical western dishes with a host of other influences.

      It's easy to see how many beers, snacks, and good times will be had at Bells and Whistles. Its simple but apt name lives up as the moniker accurately expresses the finer details and fixings attached to its seemingly straightforward menu and service.

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